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Daily reporting of the class action trial against the UK Post Office which could expose serious potential miscarriages of justice.
Thank you to everyone who backed this project. It is live now at the www.PostOfficeTrial.com where you can read every court report for free, sign up to get them in your inbox and, if you want to, make a contribution. Thank you!
Thank you to everyone who backed this project. It is live now at the www.PostOfficeTrial.com where you can read every court report for free, sign up to get them in your inbox and, if you want to, make a contribution. Thank you!
237 backers pledged £9,322 to help bring this project to life.

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Reporting the High Court Post Office trial

£9,322

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Hello and thanks for landing here. I have reached my minimum funding, but there is much more to this story...

This kickstarter was set up to fund my reporting from the first Class Action trial between former Subpostmasters and the Post Office, which is scheduled to take place on 5 November for 20 days. That will happen.

But there is another...

On 4 March 2019 the second and final trial of the class action against the Post Office will begin. It, too, will last 20 days.

If this kickstarter gets close to £12,000 by 15 October, I'll attend and report every single day of March's trial as well as November's.  

And when March finishes, it will be all over. There are no more trials scheduled. This story. Or at least, the High Court element of it, ends.

It could be that the Subpostmasters, MPs and various professional people I've been speaking to for the last 8 years will have their opinions vindicated, and a judge will rule that the Post Office has acted unlawfully. 

Or the judge could rule that the Post Office has acted entirely within the law. 

This is high stakes stuff - reputations, livelihoods and tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers money are at stake. 

Please contribute if you can. If the total gets to £12K, I will be there in November AND March, reporting this from the High Court.

If I don't make it to £12K I will still report November's trial and I will fulfil every single reward. I will also account for every penny I get as backing - either spending it researching and publishing material around November's trial or splitting it between November and March and hoping I can make up the difference in commissions.

Please check out the rewards and see what appeals. I am happy to answer any questions you want to post in the FAQ before you decide to back me.

Original post below: 

**********ORIGINAL LAUNCH POST**********

Imagine paying your life savings to start a business relationship with a publicly-owned corporation which can take your money, demand more of it at will, refuse to help you, sack you with no recompense and then destroy your reputation by hounding you through the criminal justice system, alleging you are a thief.

The above happened to a number of subpostmasters - people who run local Post Offices - over the last two decades. I've met a few of them. It ruined their lives. 

How did this all come about? Well... 

...around 2000 the Post Office rolled out a networked IT accounting system (called "Horizon") to all its branch post offices. Since then, hundreds of subpostmasters have experienced unexplained discrepancies in their branch accounts - apparent cash losses the Post Office claimed they were contractually liable for.

The Post Office told the affected subpostmasters they were not entitled to any investigation into why the figures on their screens didn't match the cash in the tills, just that they had to make good any discrepancies with their own money.

The sums involved, in some cases, ran into tens of thousands of pounds. Many who couldn't afford to make good these discrepancies were suspended or sacked, losing thousands of pounds of investment and their livelihoods at a stroke. Some were criminally prosecuted by the Post Office's own in-house revenue recovery team for false accounting, theft or fraud.

This story has been described by one MP as a "national scandal" and by the Daily Mail as likely representing "one of the most widespread miscarriages of justice in the UK this century." Click on that last link and read the article. It's a belter.

Now, more than 500 former subpostmasters and ex-employees are suing the Post Office in a class action at the High Court in London. If the Post Office loses, damages could run into tens of millions of pounds. The Post Office is adamant it has not put a foot wrong. And it might be right.

The trial begins on Monday 5 November. It will last 20 days. 

Despite two parliamentary debates, a select committee inquiry, an independent investigation by forensic accountants and a BBC Panorama programme on the subject, no one has got to the bottom of the mysterious Horizon IT problems or the Post Office's approach to investigating them. 

I've already been to a pre-trial hearing, during which the Post Office admitted something they told Panorama was, in fact, untrue.

I would be immensely grateful for your backing, so I can be there every day of the trial. My main court reports will be made freely available at postofficetrial.com (the site is live now with plenty of historical info about this case and its victims). Backers get extra stuff. The rewards are fun and range from £1 to £1500. 

This is your opportunity to fund some proper public interest journalism. To help tell the story of the ordinary people who claim they were caught up in a legal nightmare and ended up losing everything. Please donate if you can. 

For more information, check out postofficetrial.com

PLEASE NOTE: If you want, you can donate completely anonymously and confidentially. When you donate do not use your real name in the profile name section (the only part of your details Kickstarter makes public). If the project is fully funded you will get sent a message asking if you want the reward your pledge qualifies you for. You can choose to ignore it, thus staying completely anonymous. Or you can supply your details, which lets me know who you are. The payment process is encrypted and secure.

Risks and challenges

The Post Office trial is due to begin on 5 November 2018. Even if this kickstarter reaches its target, I will make a loss. I am just about capable of swallowing that loss through my savings and/or by taking on professional commissions around this story. I am hoping to get over-funded.

If I can't raise the target funding every penny pledged returns to my backers. As a result I will not cover every day of the trial and will need to fill my diary with non-Post Office related work. That's why I'm running the kickstarter to 15 October rather than the start of the trial. If I fail to raise £3000 before 15 October I've still got a couple of weeks to find alternative paid work in November.

If, thanks to your generosity, this kickstarter reaches its £3000 target, the risks as I see them are this:

1) The trial does not happen.

This could be because the Post Office might settle before the trial starts or the subpostmasters could withdraw their claim. If either happens before the fundraising period ends, you will not be required to honour your pledges.

If the trial collapses or the claim is settled between the end of the fundraising period and start of the trial, I will refund any honoured pledges in full and cancel the requirement to pay all un-honoured pledges. I will swallow any fees imposed by kickstarter to ensure everyone gets what they donated.

2) The trial is postponed.

If the trial is postponed, I will attend the trial during the rescheduled dates and report it accordingly. I currently have nothing in my diary which can't be moved to accommodate this.

3) The trial starts, then collapses or is settled.

Even if the trial collapses or is settled in its first week there should be enough evidence (both written and spoken) put into the public domain to write daily blog posts throughout November. I'll also investigate the aftermath, speaking to the key players and widening the journalistic reach of the project by interviewing participants, legal observers, interested parties, MPs and other influential figures in the story. You will get your money's worth. In this way all backers at every level will have their rewards fulfilled.

4) I fall ill or suffer a family emergency and am unable to fulfil my commitment, partially or wholly, in person.

If I am required, through illness or any other unforseen circumstance, to absent myself from court for one day or more, I will arrange for a trained journalist to attend court on my behalf and compile a court report in my absence. I will then ensure that court report is published on www.postofficetrial.com. If I fall ill before the trial starts I will arrange for a trained journalist to attend the trial on my behalf. If I fall so ill I am unable to communicate or I die, I have arranged that you will get your money back. No one can predict the future, but if it helps, I haven't missed a day's work for several years.

5) Legal restrictions stop the reporting of the trial.

It is conceivable that the judge may order some elements of the trial not be reported. This is extremely unlikely. It is almost impossible to imagine a situation whereby the proceedings of the whole trial would be deemed unreportable. If this happens it would arguably be a bigger story than the trial itself, and I will honour the rewards in the same way proposed in point 3) above - covering the story as fully as possible.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About $1.28

    The thank you selfie

    I will email, tweet or instagram you a photo of me giving you a thumbs up/wearing a silly wig/doing my "seriousjournalist" face. The choice is yours. Donate £3 and collect the set.

    A silly idea? Of course it is. You'd be much better off backing me at £20. That's where I really need you.

    PLEASE NOTE: If you want you can donate completely anonymously and confidentially. The only person who will see your details is me.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About US$ 6

    Fame at last

    I will post your message and/or a picture of you on the postofficetrial.com website.

    The photo and message must be supplied by you. Photos of other people and/or things can be submitted instead, but you must own the copyright (ie you must have taken the photo) and if it features someone who isn't you, you must confirm you have their permission for me to post the image to the postofficetrial.com website.

    Images and messages will be moderated for inappropriate content. If I think your image or message is inappropriate and you are not willing to make changes, neither will be posted and you will be refunded minus a 30% admin fee.

    There. I've managed to make a simple, fun idea sound quite boring and complicated. You'd be much better off backing me at £20. That's where I really need you.

    PLEASE NOTE: You can donate completely anonymously and confidentially. If you don't want your image or your name attached to your message that is entirely you prerogative.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £20 or more About US$ 26

    All the emails

    Both the above rewards (if that's your thing) plus an email direct to your inbox automatically sent the moment I update the postofficetrial.com blog.

    Get every twist and turn of the trial as it happens! (free email subscribers only get pinged once a day).

    PLUS if you can back the kickstarter at this level you will get a complementary secret email sent directly to your inbox in the run up to the trial and daily throughout November. This will not be published on postofficetrial.com

    The secret email will give a fuller and more informal insight into the joy of attending court and reporting on one of the most extraordinary trials this century.

    You will also receive a warm and fuzzy feeling which comes from knowing your contribution is also funding the publicly available blog posts, the main product of this kickstarter.

    PLEASE NOTE: You can donate completely anonymously, your name will not appear anywhere, and the only person who will see your details is me.

    If just 150 people take me up on this, the project is go.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About US$ 128

    Everyone back to mine

    On the evening of Saturday 2 Feb 2019 you will be warmly welcomed into my home or a nearby venue for food, refreshments and sparkling conversation.

    Over said refreshments you can mingle with your fellow kickstarter backers, find out what moved them to contribute and just feel generally righteous for having funded some (by then, no doubt) deeply influential public interest journalism.

    If this reward gets more than two backers, it's happening. If it gets one, I'm taking you to the pub.

    Please bear in mind I live in Walton-on-Thames so if you want to do this, factor in the travel and possible need for overnight accommodation, which, of course, will be down to you.

    If just 30 people take me up on this, the kickstarter will be funded.

    PLEASE NOTE: You can donate completely anonymously. The only person who will see your details is me.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £250 or more About US$ 320

    The tip service

    For news orgs.

    According to the Daily Mail this story "quite likely represents one of the most widespread miscarriages of justice in the UK this century" (p32, 25 April 2015).

    The forthcoming trial will go some way towards finding out if the Daily Mail's assessment is accurate, with a host of fascinating human interest stories told along the way.

    There are big sums at stake here, and the Post Office could face paying tens of millions of pounds in damages. A British institution risks being permanently discredited. Equally, it could be fully exonerated.

    Whilst I have some personal sympathy for some of the people I have met and the grim situation they found themselves in (what human being wouldn't?), I have a professional duty to them and all parties to report everything that happens in court objectively and fairly.

    I will be your eyes and ears in the courtroom for the duration of the trial. I know all the key players, and I can give you the interviewees and contacts you need for on and off-the-record comment.

    I will help your planning operation by giving you information on scheduled witnesses and tip you off if there's a sudden development. I can advise on what resources you might consider committing to each day of the trial depending on its likely newsworthiness. I will also warn you when things are about to getting very interesting or (whisper it) procedural and dull.

    Your £250 is insurance against missing anything of note throughout the trial.

    I am an experienced newsgatherer and I am familiar with the ways of the High Court.
    Have a look at postofficetrial.com for links to my cv and previous work on the story.

    If you subscribe to the tip service, you can have me on call 24/7 to give you the info and the angle you need to do this story justice.

    PLEASE NOTE: You can donate completely anonymously and confidentially.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £300 or more About $385

    The talk

    Once the trials are over I will come and give you or your club/association a historical overview of the Post Office Horizon story, how I came to be involved in it and a personal debrief on my experience of attending the trials.

    This will take the form of a spoken presentation supported by visual material followed by a Q&A.

    Total running time will be 40 - 60 minutes. Other subject areas and formats can be prepared by mutual agreement.

    Venue and out-of-pocket expenses (eg travel) will be borne by you or your association.

    PLEASE NOTE: You can donate completely anonymously. The only person who will see your details is me.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,000 or more About US$ 1,279

    The half day training course

    As well as being a freelance reporter, I am a public-speaking/live presentation trainer. Look! Here is a testimonial to prove it:

    "Nick provided us with an engaging presentation skills workshop earlier this year, which included a group session and one-on-one tutorials. We found Nick to be very professional and attentive and many of the tips and tricks he relayed in his critique have already proved helpful at subsequent events. He is a supportive coach and follows his own advice of preparation being key to success, taking the time to get to know our business in advance of the workshop and providing detailed follow-ups afterwards."

    For £1,000 I will prepare and deliver a 4 hour training course for you and/or your colleagues.

    Participants will improve every aspect of their ability to speak to live audiences through classroom training and practical exercises.

    Communicating through the media can form part of the training schedule on request.

    Venue and out-of-pocket expenses (eg travel) will be borne by you or your organisation.

    PLEASE NOTE: You can donate completely anonymously and confidentially. The only person who will see your details is me.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,250 or more About US$ 1,599

    The full day training course

    As well as being a freelance reporter, I am a public-speaking/live presentation trainer. Here's a different testimonial from the one above. Also from a genuine client:

    "Public speaking training with Nick Wallis was a truly uplifting experience. Being an ex- international sportsperson turned business owner, it is easy to assume that presenting to an audience comes naturally to me. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite... Through Nick’s unwavering patience, calm coaching style and natural charisma, he was able to gradually and systematically help me to formulate my life story, drawing out the important events, delving into the relevant detail and helping me to prioritise and deliver my key messages, all the while challenging me and encouraging me to improve my public speaking abilities."

    For £1,500 I will prepare and deliver a full day seven hour training course for you and/or your colleagues.

    Participants will improve every aspect of their ability to speak to live audiences through classroom training and practical exercises.

    Communicating through the media can form part of the training schedule on request.

    Venue and out-of-pocket expenses (eg travel) will be borne by you or your organisation.

    PLEASE NOTE: You can donate completely anonymously and confidentially. The only person who will see your details is me.

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Funding period

- (45 days)